A blue moon flew over South Texas on Tuesday evening. The San Antonio Spurs managed to hold off the Brooklyn Nets with a measly 98 points and earn their 14th win of the season. It may not sound like much, but San Antonio has managed to keep an opponent below 100 points for the first time in over two months. The last time it happened was on November 11 against the Milwaukee Bucks, who were missing their top three players. Every intermediate team has managed to reach triple figures and most of them have scored much more.
Around the middle of the season, San Antonio is close to having the worst defense in the NBA. No really do it NBA history. And it’s not particularly close. Before Tuesday’s games, the Spurs were averaging 119.5 points per 100 possessions. This season’s record is 116.8 set by the 2018-19 Cleveland Cavaliers. Their half-court defense, according to Cleaning the Glass, is 2.4 points per 100 games, worse than anyone else in the NBA. They allow 31.1 shots in the restricted area, more than any other team in the NBA, and only the Lakers allow a higher average-range field goal percentage than the Spurs’ 46.2 percent. Looking for silver lining? San Antonio allows for the seventh-fewest 3-pointer in the league, but their rivals make nearly 40 percent of those shots. This is partly due to the successful throw of the opponent, but it will not get easier when Jakob Poeltl is inevitably exchanged.
If you believe in the omens, no team coached by Gregg Popovich has finished in the bottom five defensively since the 1996-97 tanker that led the Spurs to buy Tim Duncan in the next draft. That team, like this one, was the NBA’s worst defensive team, and by and large, that’s how San Antonio painted it. It’s a half full glass look. Popovich is such a good coach that he even knows how to lose better than bad teams. It doesn’t make him any less frustrating when you see arguably the greatest coach of all time, the man who pulled league averages out of thin air in the past on defense, leading a defense that struggles so hard. They better hope they catch Victor Vembanyama, because if they don’t, it won’t get any easier.
Wemby has first perfect game out of 3
The three-pointer isn’t number one in Vembanyama’s shooting rotation, but his ability to shoot from deep – and to do so at a high level given his size – is just the addition that makes him the most attractive. prospects after LeBron James exactly 20 years ago. This was beautifully represented this week in the Metz 92’s 103-94 win over Dijon, when he scored a perfect 3-of-3 from three-point range in a game for the first time all season.
Victor Vembanyama showed something as a defender under the basket and a sharpshooter in yesterday’s victory over Dijon. He didn’t force the attack in this game and let everything come to him. Took a lot of different shots from the floor. Showed why he is a threat in pick-and-pop. pic.twitter.com/U4Xzeatq8T
— Global Scouting (@GlobalScouting_) January 16, 2023
Wembanyama finished with 16 points, nine boards and three blocks in a low scoring match. He continues to lead the LNB Pro A in each of those three categories, aiming to become the league’s MVP.
There are two more games for Wembanyama and Mets 92 before the end of the month, and both could be can be seen for free on the NBA app. The first will take place on Wednesday afternoon in the home match against Fos-sur-Mer. The Mets 92 defeated Fos 96-85 in their first meeting in early December, where Wembanyama scored 32 points and 10 boards.
- Wednesday, January 18: Boulogne-Levallois vs. Fos-sur-Mer | 14:00 ET
- Friday, January 27: Boulogne-Levallois vs. Roan | 2:30 p.m. ET
In Wednesday’s rematch against Fos-sur-Mer, Wembanyama will take on former Clemson star Gabe Deveaux, as well as Garlon Green, the brother of longtime NBA player Gerald Green, who leads the team in scoring this year. In the first meeting, Green scored five points, while Devo – only eight points.
Race to the bottom
Each week, we determine the seven teams most likely to win the coveted #1 slot on lottery night. These rankings will take into account the current record, recent results, upcoming schedules, and injuries to subjectively rank the worst teams in the NBA.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: So far, Oklahoma City has officially avoided the bottom seven, winning five out of six. The Lakers are replacing them after heartbreaking losses to the Mavericks and 66ers, but watch out for the Suns. Devin Booker could be injured but they are 1-9 in their last 10 games. The problems go far beyond a single player.
6. Washington Wizards: Here is Delon Wright’s winning streak. When Washington’s backup quarterback returned in late December, the Wizards had won five in a row. We now know this was a mistake, as the Wizards have lost five of their last six.
5. Orlando Magic: Athletic’s Shams Charania revealed on Tuesday that Magic is interested in Fred VanVleet. This is an interesting, albeit slightly unorthodox, idea. VanVleet, 28, is older than the entire Orlando core by a few years, but he’s the kind of veteran that makes sense for this group. His skill set is independent of use, so he can increase or decrease his points based on his team’s needs. A three-dimensional point guard with championship experience fits just about anywhere, but a young team lacking on both fronts could really make the most of his talents.
4. San Antonio Spurs: We’ve covered San Antonio in detail above, but for now, here’s something positive: Jeremy Sochan has been shooting 71.8% from the line since taking one-handed shots in his attempts. Previously, it was below 46%, so this move is clearly paying dividends.
3. Detroit Pistons: Keep an eye on the Pistons because they’re approaching the point of no return when it comes to injuries. Detroit gave Isaiah Leavers 39 minutes in their last loss, a surprisingly competitive 117–114 loss to the New York Knicks.
2. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball is getting closer to the story, or at least a toned down version of the story. He is currently averaging 11 three-pointers per game, more than ever by a player who isn’t named Stephen Curry or James Harden. It’s hard to blame him. Why risk your body attacking the basket for an 11-34 team? Just 15.3% of Ball’s shots this season come three feet from the basket.
1. Houston Rockets: Something big is happening in Houston right now. The Rockets may have lost their last 11 games, but they’ve been without Kevin Porter Jr. in their last three. This allowed a lot more attacks to go through Alperen Sengun, who is averaging 20.7 points and 6.3 assists per game during this stretch. Sengun, a highly skilled attacking centre, has spent way too much time this season watching Porter and Jalen Green dribbling. This stretch could give the Houston front office the boost it needs to make Sengun, probably the best player of the three, at least right now, more of a focal point.
Loss of the week
Nothing compares to a fake return. The Magic had the best of both worlds on Sunday when they closed a 15-point gap to the Denver Nuggets in the second half to take the lead at the end of the fourth quarter. The experience of this comeback will serve them well in the future, but they won’t have to carry an extra win on their roster because, simply put, they don’t have an MVP. Denver does. So when the Nuggets needed to start taking the upstart Magic seriously, Nikola Jokic casually stepped back and forfeited the winner of the game.
Orlando’s clutch misadventures have often occupied this spot, and with an 8-15 clutch record along with a minus 16.3 net rating in such situations, it’s no surprise. But every time the Magic loses to a heartthrob, they can take solace in the fact that if they were able to get this close now, with one of the NBA’s youngest rosters, they’d certainly be ready to break through in a year or two. when that group knows how to handle late game situations.
Games of the weak
Wednesday, January 18: Hornets vs. Rockets: This is the Wemby Watch Super Bowl in Houston, where the worst team in the Eastern Conference meets the worst team in the Western Conference.
Saturday, January 21: Magic in Wizards: I’d just like to use this place to grumble about the fact that there are two team names in the NBA that are so thematically related. These are not animals. We do not need a team named after a supernatural phenomenon and another team named after the owners of this phenomenon.
Monday, January 23: Hornets at Jazz: The Raptors did this section last week, using the Hornets as a litmus test. They took care of the business against Charlotte, proving they weren’t quite ready to give up the year. Now let’s see if the rocking Jazz can do the same.